|SPACE COAST STADIUM
There's no mistaking Space Coast Stadium as you approach it from the north or the south. Looming over the Florida landscape, the stadium seems like a spaceship that's landing in the middle of nowhere. It sits above the flat Florida landscape, shining brightly with its white exterior and silver grandstand.
But the ballpark won't be in the middle of nowhere for much long, as the nearby Viera development continues to grow at a brisk pace (it was slow going heading north of the ballpark to the freeway, as construction vehicles clogged the roads) and other major retail expansion occurs (several big-box retailers recently signed agreements to build new stores south of the ballpark along the freeway) throughout the Space Coast thanks its location between Orlando and Cocoa.
Space Coast Stadium was originally built to be the spring-training home of the Florida Marlins, which explains the teal-colored seats throughout the ballpark. (Technically, the Marlins still hold a lease on the stadium and are subleasing it to the Nationals for spring training.) Past the color of the seats, however, there's a definitely space theme to the ballpark in an homage to nearby Kennedy Space Center. When a Nationals player hits a home run, smoke spews from a baseball rising above the scoreboard like a rocket lifting off to space. The stadium signage is designed to look futuristic as well; contrast all the futurism with one of the few hand-operated scoreboards in spring training.
Of course, until the nearby area grows enough, Space Coast Stadium is overkill for the Brevard County Manatees (although the team did have a crowd of 5,000+ this season), so it must also be judged as a suitable spring-training facility. At first glance you'd assume that this ballpark is in the middle of nowhere. Not quite: despite the appearances, the ballpark is only a mile or two from I-95 and about an hour from Orlando via the Bee Line Highway. The ballpark is also about 10 miles from Cocoa Beach, which features a slew of hotels along the waterfront and near the freeway. If you're headed to spring training, a trip to Space Coast Stadium isn't a chore at all; you could easily take in two games by combining a visit to Space Coast Stadium with another game at Cracker Jack Stadium (the spring-training home of the Atlanta Braves), or Osceola County Stadium (the spring-training home of the Houston Astros). In these situations, it makes sense to stay in the greater Orlando area, as the Florida freeway system makes it easy to drive between these four stadiums.
If you go to spring-training games, try and sit on the first-base side of the grandstand: your view will be good and you'll avoid staring in the sun. Avoid the left-field bleachers in the day: you'll be hot and staring into the sun.
Spring Training History
The Montreal Expos held spring training in the following locations: West Palm Beach (1968-1972); Daytona Beach (1973-1980); West Palm Beach (1981-1997); Jupiter (1998-2002); Viera (2003-2004).
The Montreal Expos during a spring-training game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach.
Space Coast Stadium was built in 1994 to be the spring-training home of the Florida Marlins. When Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins and sold the Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball, part of the agreement was that the Marlins would shift spring-training headquarters to Jupiter, while the Expos would move spring training from Jupiter to Melbourne.
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